Friday, July 23, 2010

David Eagleman, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

Imagine what it must feel like to have your last wish granted: to be reincarnated into, say, a horse. And as your body metamorphoses into this majestic beast, you realize the error of your choice as you lose forever that last glimmer of recognition of your humanness.

Better yet: What if God were an entity whose favorite activity is rereading Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein? Or what if "God" were, in reality, a population of dim-witted creatures and, upon our death, we learn that we are a population of Super Computers designed by them to provide answers to the cosmic questions ... but we don't know what they're asking, and they can't fathom what we're saying to them.

These are just some of the fascinating scenarios Eagleman puts forth in this thin volume of tales. Drawing from a divergent collection of disciplines like molecular biology, neuroscience, chemistry, mathematics -- and viewed through the prisms of theology, literature, and philosophical speculation -- Eagleman's Forty Tales offers the reader, in forty two- to three-page "tales," an entertaining and thought-provoking glimpse of what may await us in the Hereafter.

I enjoyed this!

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